We have written here many times how pronounced the digital revolution has been and its impact on professional and creative services firms. We’ve referenced articles and research on transformation and the agents of change that have been manifested in what most would agree is a disruptive landscape and industry that is struggling to stay current with today’s most sophisticated best practices. There continues to be much said on the nature of disruption and debate over what are the best processes and tools to use to help services firms better navigate and compete. Perhaps the best weapon against the effects of disruption isn’t a tool or a process but rather a mindset.
Core Values Matter - Mindset Too
In a special report The Future of Work – Thriving in the Service Level Economy (SLE), the latest research indicates that the new tools of the SLE do not reflect the needs of the past. Today, instead of an Efficiency Expert, firms are looking for more than simple speed and ease. Today, the best performing services firms have adopted a complete new set of core values: Transparency, Performance, Scalability, Accountability and Trust.
The search for a system that accomplishes this and can function as the Operating System of Record is not that easy. Many firms struggle with disruption because they have an ingrained sense of process and to change means to re-learn. And even though today’s technology is designed to make business be more productive, in many cases scenarios emerge where the status quo becomes a formidable obstacle.
In a recent Harvard Business Review story, author Tony Schwartz writes: “This is one reason why transformation is so difficult to achieve. Among many potential explanations, one that gets very little attention may be the most fundamental: the invisible fears and insecurities that keep us locked into behaviors even when we know rationally that they don’t serve us well. Add to that the anxiety that nearly all human beings experience in the face of change. Nonetheless, most organizations pay far more attention to strategy and execution than they do to what their people are feeling and thinking when they’re asked to embrace a transformation. Resistance, especially when it is passive, invisible, and unconscious, can derail even the best strategy.”
According to the research report Coming of Age Digitally, MIT Sloan Management and Deloitte offer insights and some recommendations on how companies can address the status quo mindset and move toward a more controlled working environment and begin to grow in maturity:
“Figuring out how to reshape the organization in order to operate in a competitive environment increasingly defined by digital technologies is essential for extending your organization’s legacy into the coming years. How can you go about doing so, and what do leaders need to do to help bring it about?”
1. Assess your existing digital maturity.
Assembling organizational leaders to assess the state of the organization or, better yet, surveying employees about their perception of your digital maturity is a good place to start.
2. Create pockets of fresh thinking and innovation.
They should consist of cross-functional teams that think about meaningful ways to improve the way the business works, and they should be comprised of volunteers or employees who are positively disposed toward digital changes.
3. Experiment and learn.
In these pockets of digital innovation, begin to experiment with new ways of doing business. These groups should not be moon shots of digital transformation but rather iterate on a minimum number of viable changes as part of six-to-eight-week initiatives.
4. Use successes to drive change across the organization.
The risk of an experimental mindset is that many companies stop there. They think that experimenting with digital business will make them more mature, but that’s only if the teams and the experimental mindset can be driven through the rest of the organization.
Only by developing a culture of continual experimentation — experimenting with new approaches while also supporting the core business — can established organizations keep up with the changes that have happened and are still to come with respect to digital business.
Point of View Matters
“I won’t change and you can’t make me!” We might not hear this from an employee directly but what they may be feeling on the inside is all about losing control and letting go of a well-established comfort zone. Leaders that consider the individual and personal ramifications of instituting change stand a better chance at changing the mindset from “I can’t and I don’t want to” to “I can and I will.” Once minds are changed, everything else will change too.